Friday, September 11, 2015

On The Road Again

Last week my little family of five spent a moderately epic week driving across the country. This is what we looked like the night before we left.  Not nearly as ready as we should have been.  We grossly underestimated how long it would take us to pack up our small house. As it turns out, not having a lot of square footage has nothing to do with just how much stuff you own.  

We packed well into the night, got up early the next day to pack some more, and tried to get on the road by 1 pm.  I am sure you know how this story goes.  We needed to be out of the house no later than 5 pm so the new owners could take ownership.  We didn't wrap up until 7:30.  We were panicked and tired and probably a little bit stinky. This is the last shot I took in front of our house, ready to embark on our cross-country trip.

Somewhere around Needles, CA.  I felt like we were driving into a painting.

This was a tunnel on a road that went to somewhere.  I would love to go back one day an see where it leads.

We passed through a lot of wind farms, especially in California and Texas.

We listened to a book to keep us occupied during the long hours on the road.  We also had the steady soundtrack of Meatball and Petunia snoring in the back seat.

We spent the night in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.  I got to see the original London Bridge.  I have now crossed over both of them (mark that item off the bucket list).

Beautiful desert scenery in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

I was still trying to stay on top of my day job at night.  Harriet was ready to take a letter for me.  

Into the great wide open, in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Taking some time out to do a little readjustment.  If you haven't ever tried to find a patch of grass in the desert for your three suburban gravel and sand loathing dogs to poop on, you really haven't lived.

Crossing over the mighty Mississippi River into Memphis.

After a long day on the road, Meatball likes to unwind with a chewie and something random on the hotel tv.

I had to take a picture of the price of gas in Alabama.  Being from California, I would call this a bit of a reverse sticker shock.  I had no idea gas prices were so low in some parts of the country.  

Driving through Cordova, Alabama.

Are we there yet?

The last leg of our journey.  We finally made it to Atlanta, and the beginning of our next adventure. Now we just need to close on our new house. Our pod won't be here for a while, which gives us some time to explore our new town.  I haven't lived here in fifteen years, so I need to learn how to get around again, what the fun things to explore are, and how to get to Costco (we are going to need a lot of paper towels).  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Best Laid Plans

I have found that planning out my goals in four month increments seems to work best for me at this stage of my life.  I break them out into January through April, May through August, and September through December.  I type up my list on pretty paper and check things off once they are completed, usually using a cute sticker to mark my accomplishment. I try to list common items together, because I find it easier to tackle common items together.   I hang my list somewhere that I will see it every day as a visual reminder.  This is a sample shot from a list I put together for last summer.

When I originally drafted my goals for this summer, we weren't planning on moving back to the east coast.  It was something my husband and I had always talked about doing one day.  We traveled back East in May to visit family, and decided that our someday was now.  We started looking at houses and making offers.  We didn't get the houses.  We listed our house in California.  It sold in a weekend.  I put in a transfer with my job. There was no turning back.  We were committed.  My husband was denied his transfer.  Our house was sold.  Time was moving forward, and so were we.  We needed a place to live. Our summer felt like a blur.  It was filled with open houses and staging furniture and sending in documents to our mortgage company.  There were moving boxes and bubble wrap and packing up a Pod until the early hours of the morning.

Here we are at the end of our summer.  My husband traded in his zippy muscle car.  We now have an SUV filled with three dogs, towing a trailer, and driving us across the country.  This is the last picture I will ever take in front of our California house.  We don't live there anymore. Our goals now include closing on a new house, husband finding a new job, and getting all of our stuff across the country as un-broken as possible. In five days we will be there.  Updates will follow.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

My So-Called Instagram Life

I can't believe that I won't be living in Northern California anymore.  Packing and prepping for our cross- country adventure has been crazy.  This is what have been up to in our final weeks on the west coast!

Our Ron Burgundy doll (complete with glass of Scotch) is making the trip with us.  He just wanted to be on our Instagram feed.

Petunia's tongue is like a fruit roll-up.

We spent some time in San Francisco's Chinatown, shopping and exploring.

Petunia got a pretty new (Star Wars) dress.

The girls pretended the liked each other.

I had a bacon wrapped grilled peach with bleu cheese.  It was amazing.

I found a chicken crossing the road in front of my house one morning.  It was confusing.  So many questions.

They are concerned about where my husband went (to the store).  They are just concerned separately.

We also spent a little time exploring (and shopping in) Japantown in the city.  I may or may not now own three teapots.

I wasn't expecting watermelon flavored yogurt to be good but this really was.  Kind of like a watermelon Jolly Rancher.

Amazing how our entire life can fit  into this.

We were cleaning out the garage, and the girls found their car seat.  They were snuggling, but separately.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Work Week In Scottsdale, AZ

It goes without saying, Arizona in August is hot.  This is the second year in a row that I have attended a conference and training for my job in Scottsdale in the summertime.  It came a week before we had to pack up and move across the country, so it wasn't the best timing, but I must admit, it was a nice break from the chaos.  Arizona is beautiful, and I took a little time to take it all in.

The view from my hotel room, with Camelback Mountain in the background.

Bunnies everywhere, with little cotton tails.
I found this guy on the wall near my room.   He camouflaged so well with the wall, I wasn't sure he was an actual scorpion at first.
I don't know what these desert plants with the curly stands coming off of them are called, but I want one.
I spent some downtime here.
The cacti reminded me of little pin cushions.
Don't go!!
I found a beautiful old well in the backyard of my room.
Kinda phallic, don't ya think?
You know you want to pick this little gem up for your kids!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Recent Reads: A Little of This & A Little of That

I seem to be plowing through a lot of books this summer.  Here are my reviews and recommendations for the stories that I have been reading recently.

The Dinner:  I had heard this book described as the Dutch Gone Girl, so I instantly added it to my reading list for this summer.  The story is about two couples that meet for dinner in a posh restaurant in New Amsterdam one evening.  The two men are brothers.  One is an ex-school teacher with a vaguely identified mental illness that makes him prone to violent outbursts.  The other is a politician, and the likely next Prime Minister of the Netherlands.  It is slowly revealed throughout the course of the story that they are really meeting to discuss a situation with their children, who have committed a horrific act.  The parents must decide how to react and deal with the possible consequences and fallout.

I wanted to love this book, but I can only give it three out of five stars.  All of the characters are highly unlikable and the narrator is completely unreliable, which is usually a huge plus for my reading enjoyment.  The story just seemed so implausible to me.  I wanted more to happen, and even to see the characters grow and possibly learn something, but that never happened.  Then it ended predictably, the only way a story like this could.  I was hoping for so much more.  Maybe something is lost in the English translation?  

Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of our Everyday Lives:  If you read my blog regularly, it is no secret that I am a huge Gretchen Rubin fan.  I pre-ordered this book on Audible,com, so I could listen to it the day it came out.  As with all of her other books, I learned a lot about myself and why I do the things that I do. First I took her quiz on the four tendencies, to better understand how I deal with expectations.  Once I was able to identify which tendency was my strongest (I am an obliger), I also started to identify the nature of those around me, and figure out how to better interact with them.  

I find the science of how people form habits to be fascinating, and I feel like I gained a lot from reading this book.  If you are already a fan of hers, you will dive right into this book as well.  If you are new to her writing, I also highly recommend The Happiness Project, and Happier at Home.  It probably goes without saying that I would rate this book a t strong five out of five stars.  

Dirty Rocker Boys:  I was a child of the 80's and a teen of the 90's.  I grew up watching Star Search and hair band videos.  I thought Bobbie Brown (the girl in the Cherry Pie video) was one of the most beautiful women ever, and her life seemed to be the stuff movies are made out of. So, as soon as I realized she had written her autobiography, I was in.  Turns out her life wasn't all sunshine and roses, and the details of how things really happened for her were real page turners.

This book was sex, drugs, and rock n' roll.  I would give it five stars, because of her honesty. Yeah, it was full of all of the juicy details of who was sleeping with who and what it was like being in relationships with some big-time rock stars.  It was also about her trying to figure out who she really was while raising a daughter in the LA scene.  Bobbie faced addictions and a doomed marriage.  Her mother played a big part in giving her child the stability she needed.  In the end, I really ended up rooting for her and hoping she can could get it all under control before it was too late.  

Since You've Been Gone: Emily comes back from a family vacation to find that her best friend Sloane has disappeared.  She receives a letter in the mail from Sloane with a list of tasks to accomplish before the end of the summer, with instructions to find her after she finishes the list.  Sloane was always the more outgoing daredevil and Emily was more of a wallflower.  This isn't the first time that Sloane has given Emily a list of tasks to accomplish that are slightly out of her comfort zone, but she has never seriously tried to complete them all, until now.  This summer is different.  Emily makes some new friends and with the help of the list has a pretty epic summer, totally bursting out of her shell and coming into her own.  She just hopes that finishing the list will somehow lead her to solve the mystery of where her best friend has gone. 

I loved this book, and would give it four out of five stars.  It is geared toward young adults, but I a big fan of the genre.  If you enjoy the kind of "where'd she go" mystery a la Paper Towns, then this is a great book for you.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Conservatory of Flowers (The Post That Almost Didn't Happen)

Have you ever gotten an email from a friend that you meant to reply to right away, but you didn't? Every time you thought about replying, you wanted to send some great response, sharing some funny story about something crazy that just happened to you at Target.  You felt the need to have something meaningful to say, so you kept putting it off until you did.  Pretty soon it was three months later, and you felt like you had to come up with a reason why you hadn't yet responded, because why couldn't you just have sent an email right back in the first place?  You finally realized that it didn't have to be insightful and witty, it just had to be a response.   Well this post is my delayed email, only instead of three months later, it is three years.  

I had always been curious about the Conservatory of Flowers, a giant greenhouse on the east end of Golden Gate Park.  The building itself is beautiful, as are the grounds around it.  One day I noticed a giant dinosaur head poking out of the roof, and I figured it was time to explore the place.  

The inside was as beautiful as the outside.  Flowers everywhere. Exotic plants.  Light coming in through the ceiling and walls.  The best part was the special exhibit at the end, filled with prehistoric plants.  There was a loud roaring coming from the room where the exhibit was being held, and the children around me seemed to have a look of fear and wonder in their eyes. This was the room with the dinosaur head poking out of the roof.

At the end of my visit, I had hundreds of pictures.  I kept trying to sort through them so I could post the best of them.  I couldn't decide.  There were so many rooms, and I couldn't keep all of the species straight.  I kept trying to force myself to sit down and  put a post together, but if you have a blog you know that these things can't be forced. 

So here we are, three years and several special exhibits later, and I still have this incredible place inside the city that I want to share with you.  The post is still picture heavy, but I tried to keep only my favorites.  Of course, the dinosaurs are at the end.     

Note: If you visit today, the place is largely the same.  It is the special exhibit at the end that changes.      

I'm Erin

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Hi, I am Erin. Transplanted east coaster, living on the left coast. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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